Summer is passing quickly. Have you taken your family to the Happiest Place on Earth? The 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure continues through Labor Day Weekend with spectacular shows and tributes created especially for this yearlong event throughout the park, including the "Paint the Night" parade, the immersive "Disneyland Forever" fireworks show and the all-new "World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney."
How do you create the best experience if you've got small children, babies or toddlers?
- Use the Baby Care Centers. Located in Disneyland at the end of Main Street, on the right if you're facing the castle, and Disney California Adventure Park. Centers are equipped with diapers, wipes, changing tables, highchairs, private nursing stations, baby food, toddler-size toilets and friendly attendants dressed like Wendy, Michael and John's nanny from "Peter Pan."
- Tie up your toddlers. Don't be shy about using toddler leashes. Crowded areas can get nerve-wracking for parents with curious and excited 2- and 3-year-olds who insist on walking instead of riding in a stroller.
- Take time to rest. Use the parks' dozens of live shows that happen several times per day to rest your feet, cool off and recuperate from constant walking. Fantasyland Theatre is a shaded amphitheater next to It's A Small World and offers a Mickey Mouse musical show that includes princesses. The Launch Bay in Tomorrowland is a perfect air-conditioned stop for any "Star Wars" fan who craves closeup looks at movie memorabilia, behind-the-scenes looks and meeting Darth Vader or Chewbacca. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at the beginning of Main Street offers a quiet, cool, dimly lit space where babies can easily nap. The lobby of the Grand Californian hotel is a favorite spot for grandparents who might want to enjoy a glass of wine alongside a piano bar and people-watch. Frozen - Live at the Hyperion Theater is a brand new, hourlong musical based on the hit movie in California Adventure that showcases especially impressive special effects and magic onstage that will have your children's eyes glued to the stage and have you wishing you were a part of the cast.
- Drink water and get wet. Hot weather and constant walking can quicky sap the energy of any child or parent. Take empty bottles and use the offer of free ice and water at most park restaurants, street vendors excluded. While most of the water rides are not friendly for young children — Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain can be terrifying for little ones — A Bug's Land at California Adventure offers free water holes that toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy for hours.
- Strollers can be used as wheelchairs, with a tag from City Hall on Main Street, meaning your child won't need to get out and stand in lines.
- Get a ride-switch pass (inquire at City Hall): If a child can't or won't go on a ride, parents or guardians can get a switch, which means one parent goes on the ride while the other stays with the child, and then goes right on the ride afterward.
- Take a few maps at the entrance and give to the kids, having them navigate. Feeling in control when in the big crowds can ease anxiety.
- City Hall will give a front-of-line pass or return-time pass to avoid waiting in lines for those with disabilities and special needs.
- Noise-canceling headphones or even music with headphones/earpiece can be a lifesaver for kids with sensory challenges.
- Keep routine as much as possible. For example, if you normally eat lunch at 12:30, try to stick to that.
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Jill Simonian is a Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, appearing on CBS Los Angeles every Wednesday on News at 5pm and Friday mornings at 6:30am. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.
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